Green light for testing reduction

Formula 1 team bosses have agreed to limit testing next year, but not ban it all together, in an effort to increase the Friday spectacle at Grand Prix meetings

Green light for testing reduction

Testing is currently allowed at four Grand Prix circuits - Silverstone, Magny-Cours, Monza and Barcelona - and for 2001 that will stay the same. However, following a meeting at Monza last week, next year no testing will be allowed at any track for the four weeks prior to it hosting a race.

A total testing ban was rejected on safety grounds, with teams loathe to bring untried modifications to high-speed circuits such as Hockenheim before running them at a track such as Monza.

As an additional measure, the race weekend tyre allowance will increase from eight to 10 sets per car - of which three sets will be handed back on the Friday evening.

At circuits where extensive testing can be carried out prior to the race, teams currently run very few laps on the Friday, preferring to save tyres for Saturday qualifying and the race itself. But Williams technical director Patrick Head told Autosport's sister publication Motoring News that the new measures should increase the amount of Friday running.

"The car that we're running now is not the same car as it was four weeks ago, because it's been developed," he said. "So these measures would oblige us to go out and do more work on Friday.

"If we have three sets of tyres which are removed from us on Friday evening, it would force us to do race set-ups on two of the sets of tyres, and qualifying practice on one."

One downside of the new measures could be a reduction in running on Saturday mornings, with teams carrying out their test and set-up programmes on Friday, then conserving tyres for Saturday's single timed qualifying session. A potential way round that could be to also designate sets of tyres for Saturday mornings only, but with Michelin entering F1 next year to battle against Bridgestone, the rate of tyre development may preclude that.

Despite F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone being in favour of a return to qualifying sessions taking place on both Friday and Saturday, the team bosses agreed to keep the existing format of a race weekend unchanged.

Last Friday's Monza meeting also resulted in agreement on a three-week summer break in August, although this is unlikely to be brought in until 2002. The calendar would be revamped to move the Hungarian GP and testing would be banned during the break. A slight concession was made, at the insistence of Ferrari, so that cars can be shaken down for a maximum of 50km on the Monday before the holiday-ending Grand Prix takes place.

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